The figures that Carter quoted came from the Obama White House and Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, WJZ spokesman K.C. Robertson said last week.
The version that has been online since Feb. 20 included only what I quoted — not anything with Harris or Cantor. But the station did send two videos. One shows a 15-second WJZ interview Harris saying he disagrees with Obama, while the other includes Carter reading a statement issued by Cantor saying Obama is overstating the effects of the cut.
But even if Harris and Cantor were part of the mix in some versions of WJZ’s coverage, how could anyone who was following the story primarily on TV not be confused as to what would really happen when the sequester kicked in -- and who was to blame for it?
Typical of the topsy-turvy state of media affairs, by mid-week, Fox News was singing the praises of Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward, one of the two reporters who brought down President Richard Nixon with his reporting during and after the 1972 election of White House activities that came to be known as Watergate.
Suddenly, Woodward, who had long been seen by Fox as part of the shamelessly liberal mainstream media, was the darling of the right for his documented report that Team Obama, not Republicans in Congress, was responsible for introducing the idea of a sequester to last year’s budget talks. Woodward’s claim went dead against the White House strategy of trying to blame sequestration solely on congressional Republicans — as Obama did in his interview with WJZ’s Carter.
And left-leaning MSNBC was now leading an onscreen charge of show hosts and analysts trying to discredit Woodward’s report, while mocking the Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter for saying he felt threatened by a call from a senior White House staffer who told him he would “regret” insisting sequestration was Obama’s idea.
By Thursday, the eve of the doomsday Obama had been warning Americans about for weeks, Woodward and the aide who was said to have issued the warning of “regret” were the focus of the sequestration story on most channels. Personalities, after all, are a lot easier to present than analyses of federal fiscal policy and the deeply grounded failings of both the Congress and White House when it comes to doing the basic jobs they were elected to do.
But just because government has clearly become dysfunctional, that doesn’t mean the TV press corps, anchors and show hosts should sink to Washington’s level in covering it during these troubled times. In fact, now is the very time for all good men and women in the TV press corps to come to the aid of their country.